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Girls cross country: Nevis' Jade Rypkema earns all-state honors by placing fifth at state meet

United North Central's Anjalie Aho finishes 45th and Park Rapids' Morgan Koppelman places 84th at the Class A meet.

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Nevis' Jade Rypkema, who ran away with her third Section 8A title, earned all-state honors for the second time by placing fifth at the Class A meet on Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021. Vance Carlson / Park Rapids Enterprise

COVID denied Jade Rypkema a chance to win the Minnesota State High School League state girls cross country title last season.

COVID also played a role in denying the Nevis junior’s quest to win the Class A title again this season.

Rypkema was the top-rated Class A runner all season before testing positive for COVID. Rypkema lost two weeks of training late in the season before returning to defend her title at the Section 8A meet. Despite still not feeling 100%, the Nevis junior still managed to earn all-state honors by placing fifth at the state Class A girls cross country meet at St. Olaf College in Northfield on Saturday, Nov. 6.

The MSHSL state meet was canceled last season because of COVID. However, the Twin Cities Running Club Cross Country Showcase at Atwater’s Island Pine Golf Course was held as a substitute for the state meet. Rypkema won that race, which had the top runners in the state invited to compete.

After winning that state title, Rypkema had a goal of winning the MSHSL-sanctioned state title this fall. Rypkema was in contention to achieve that goal at the 2-mile mark before fading in the final mile and ending up in fifth place with a 5K time of 19:16.04. Murray County Central’s Amanda Overgaauw won the state title in 18:09.13. The Luverne duo of Tenley Nelson (second in 18:47.00) and Jenna DeBates (third in 19:06.82) followed while Staples-Motley’s Kyanna Burton was fourth in 19:08.10.

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Rypkema was able to hold off MCC’s Ashley Overgaauw, who finished sixth in 19:16.22. Rounding out the top 10 were Long Prairie-Grey Eagle’s Caroline Kuehne in 19:16.35, Perham’s Gracie Morris in 19:17.65, Minnewaska Area’s Olivia Danielson in 19:23.04 and Staples-Motley’s Aften Robinson in 19:26.67.

Amanda Overgaauw was rated No. 2, Nelson was rated No. 3 and Kuehne was rated No. 4 entering the state meet. Also rated in the state poll were Burton (No. 6), Robinson (No. 7), DeBates (No. 8), Ashley Overgaauw (No. 9) and Morris (No. 12).

Amanda Overgaauw led the 154-runner field the entire race, clocking a 5:50.10 at the 1-mile mark as Rypkema was second in 5:50.36. At the 2-mile mark, Amanda Overgaauw was first in 11:47.33 with Rypkema right behind in 11:47.84. Amanda Overgaauw kept that pace to win the state title as Rypkema dropped to fifth to earn her second all-state honors. That was the first loss for Rypkema in the last two seasons. Rypkema went undefeated last season and won all four of her races this year entering the state meet.

In her previous three appearances at the MSHSL state meet, the three-time Section 8A champion was the runner-up in 2019 in 18:20 after placing 26th in 19:40 in 2018 and 91st in 20:42 in 2017.

“Jade did everything she could to win. Her only goal was to win. She could have went out slower and run for second, but her and Overgaauw were on their own at 2 miles. Jade had nothing left in the tank and faded badly the last mile. It was tough to watch as a coach. COVID was just too much for her to overcome. She was as weak as I’ve seen her. COVID is too tough a foe in an aerobic sport. It’s easy to second guess, but I shouldn’t have run her. I put her in a position that was not doable and not safe for the athlete,” said Nevis head coach Tom Stambaugh. “Jade is the toughest competitor I’ve coached. It was a gutty effort to not quit and finish fifth. She was entered in some national cross country races the next month, but we will shut her down and focus on getting healthy for track. Healthy, I will put Jade up against any runner in the state, in any class. She will be back and ready to go this spring.”

United North Central freshman Anjalie Aho and Park Rapids junior Morgan Koppelman also turned in solid times at the state meet.

Aho finished 45th in 20:29 in her second state trip while Koppelman finished 84th in 21:21 in her state debut. Aho finished 149th in 21:56 in her state debut in 2019. Aho also competed in last year’s Twin Cities Running Club Cross Country Showcase, finishing 11th.

Aho qualified for state as the No. 3 individual finisher after placing ninth overall while Koppelman advanced as the No. 4 individual qualifier after placing 13th overall at the Section 8A meet.

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“Morgan ran awesome. It was so fun to watch her run,” said Park Rapids head coach Pat Richard. “I told her to go out and run hard, but don’t go out too fast. She knew what she had to do and she executed. It was fun to see her dedication pay off.”

Staples-Motley captured the team title with 103 points to edge Perham’s 109 total. Luverne was third with 117 points and Hawley was fourth with 161 points. Staples-Motley entered the state meet rated No. 5 while Perham was No. 1, Luverne was No. 3 and Hawley was No. 4.

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United North Central's Anjalie Aho finished 45th overall in her second trip to the state Class A girls cross country meet on Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021. Vance Carlson / Park Rapids Enterprise

1982 Dawson-Boyd High School graduate
1987 Moorhead State University graduate
Sports reporter for Park Rapids Enterprise since 1987
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